After spending all day (10am-8pm) with only a few minor tiffs and small chases, and what seemed like a very successful and calm intro, and just after my two helpers left (Jimmy's owner Liz and Bloos owner Em), Dan and Buck decided to be quite mean to Jimmy and do a big chase. So much so that he's now very scared of them
This is why I very rarely every leave a newbie in for the first night without me there to keep watch on the schnanigans and intervene if needed. Horses are horses and even with lots of space and much more hay than horses there can still be initial fights to sort out the order.
Also, after a day of meeting new horses and running about they are all likely to fatigue, making fights and chases much more likely to end in injury. I think it's nice for them to go back to normal overnight.
Bloo and Lenny are totally at ease with the newbie but Buck and Dan always take a bit longer to accept them. It's natural behaviour for horses to send away the newbie to protect their herd, but these two seem particularly set on it due to being pair bonded and not wanted the newbies near to each other.
All horses in herd 1 have lived in herds for most of their lives, and are herd savy with no issues with communication. I think part of the problem is they have become a very settled herd. They've all ebee together for 3 years and not had a newbie for over a year. The last change in this herd was also the loss of their herd leader, Magic, may he rest in peace.
They will settle in time. They always do. Slow, careful intros like this are key and it's never done in one day (accept from rarely - I have had a few exceptions and these are my favourite intros, Maggie was one!).
I always tell owners that a successful intro can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months.
Horses are all so different and herd dynamics can shift even with a set herd of horses, so the introduction of a newbie is always testing. It also depends on horses past experiences, whether they were kept in a herd from a young age or kept solitary, how they manage their own stress and anxiety and how their relationship is with each member of their herd.
Jimmy is back in his paddock with his new friend Bloo for the night. Lots of rain and thunderstorms forecast which will make the ground conditions unideal so we will reassess how to go forward in the morning.
It's never all smiles and rainbows with horses and it's unfair to make it seem like that, so I think it's fair to share these sorts of updates our followers.
With every intro, I have to make adaptations and learn, and I find that when it comes to decisions, to always go with the one that is the safest and makes you feel the least worried.
I'm sure if the weather was dry and I left Jimmy in tonight that they would sort it out between them, but I would likely come up to cuts and bruises in the morning. Worst case a vet call.
I am never one for chucking them in and sorting it out unless you have a massive open field, which of course doesn't work for horses that can't have grass, like alot of our liveries or on a track system.
Our initial intro is always following chatting over the fence first, is off track and in as big a space as we can allow for grass affected horses, and the herd is introduced one by one to the newbie to start their individual relationship with him/her. Often after day one I have to take a step back, like in this case, and go back to more one on one time with each herd member and the newbie.
Horses would also naturally exclude any existing herd members (chase them away from the herd) if they exhibited any unwanted behaviours and not let them back in until it ceased, which I have done before with a previous herd member who was always very mean to newbies and would not let up on chasing and biting. I had to let the rest of the herd settle with the newbie first with 'meanie' on the outskirts watching, before he was allowed back in.
It's so interesting that everything was calm and fine (apart from a few squeels and warning kicks) until quite a few hours later. It blows my mind that people get away with slinging a newbie in and going home and leaving them to sort it out (unless you have a huge field). I'd get no sleep!
In a ideal world I'd leave them in my track middles to sort it out, but then I'd be leaving them all at risk of gorging/lami/colic from the change.
We'll watch and adapt with little Jim, and always choose the option with the least risk (space/ground conditions etc etc)
Introductions are my least favourite part of my job!!
Now where's the wine...